Sunday, May 21, 2006

On a clear day

Last night I watched an interesting movie. Entitled "On a Clear Day" it won a Scottish BAFTA for best film last year. It stars Peter Mullen as a redundant Glasgow shipbuilder who decides to swim the English Channel. It uses this plot device to explore his relationships with his wife (played by Brenda Blethyn) and the other characters. He keeps the swim secret from his wife, just as she keeps secret from him the fact that she is training to become a bus driver.

Three of his workmates and fellow swimmers at the local baths also feature. One has retained his job but at the expense of his manhood; he is now required to clean the bosses' lavatories. The other two have women problems. The young guy (played by Billy Boyd, who was Merry or Pippin in Lord of the Rings and was also in Master and Commander) looks up to our hero as a father, recognising him as a strong and principled character whom he wishes to emulate, but is afraid to ask out the young girl who serves at the local sweet shop. The older chap was once married but his wife left him for a jam salesman and he has steered clear of women ever since lest history repeat itself. There is also a Chinese Chippy (fish and chip shop owner - not carpenter) who never says a word and cowers when the potato delivery man regularly drops the sack on the floor of the shop, splitting the sack and spilling the spuds. When he speaks it is a surprise because he has a broad Glaswegian accent and is highly intelligent.

But the main broken relationship is with his thirty-something son. He had been a twin but his brother had been lost in a swimming accident when he was a child. The son now has twin boys himself, but his father has pushed both son and grandchildren out of his life. The son feels rejected and thinks his father blames him, whereas in fact the father blames himself and keeps his family at bay to protect them from him.

The channel swim (22 miles in the busiest shipping lane in the world) becomes the talisman for all these people. If he succeeds it will restore all of their lives. The swim is their collective Redeemer.

Here is a movie that won't break box office records, didn't cost a mint to make, doesn't display spectacular scenery or exotic locations, but will reward you more on seeing it than almost any Hollywood spectacular. The acting was fine; the sound balance was perfect - despite the Scottish accents I could hear every word.

It won't be appearing at a cinema near you, but if it comes on cable try to catch it, or try and find it on DVD.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I see you keep the same hours as I do, late at night, early in the morning...thinking and not being able to sleep. If only I could exppress my thoughts as simply and eloquently as you. The blog on the new nulins (mispelled) but I can't look back and lose the comment site, has me hopful for something less toxic fo my cll.
I read your blog often. thank you
edie smith